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How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America: Problems in Race, Political Economy, and Society

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Contents Preface How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America A Critical Assessment Introduction to the First Edition Part 1 The Black Majority Chapter 1 The Crisis of the Black Working Class Chapter 2 The Black Poor Chapter 3 Grounding with My Sisters Chapter 4 Black Prisoners and Punishment in a Racist/Capitalist State Part 2 The Black Elite Chapter 5 Black Capitalism Chapter 6 Contents Preface How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America A Critical Assessment Introduction to the First Edition Part 1 The Black Majority Chapter 1 The Crisis of the Black Working Class Chapter 2 The Black Poor Chapter 3 Grounding with My Sisters Chapter 4 Black Prisoners and Punishment in a Racist/Capitalist State Part 2 The Black Elite Chapter 5 Black Capitalism Chapter 6 Black Brahmins Chapter 7 The Ambiguous Politics of the Black Church Chapter 8 The Destruction of Black Education Part 3 A Question of Genocide Chapter 9 The Meaning of Racist Violence in Late Capitalism Chapter 10 Conclusion: Towards a Socialist America Reviews "Manning Marable examines developments in the political economy of racism in the United States and assesses shifts in the American Political terrain since the first edition....He is one of the most widely read Black progressive authors in the country."-Black Employment Journal "The reissue of Manning Marable's How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America confirms that this is a classic work of political history and social criticism. Unfortunately, Marable's blistering insights into racial injustice and economic inequality remain depressingly relevant. But the good news is that Marable's prescient analysis-and his eloquent and self-critical preface to this new edition-will prove critical in helping us to think through and conquer the oppressive forces that remain."-Michael Eric Dyson, author of I May Not Get Therewith You: The True Martin Luther King, Jr. "For those of us who came of political age in the 1980s, Manning Marable's How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America was one of our bibles. Published during the cold winter of Reaganism, he introduced a new generation of Black activists/thinkers to class and gender struggles within Black communities, the political economy of incarceration, the limitations of Black capitalism, and the nearly forgotten vision of what a socialist future might look like. Two decades later, Marable's urgent and hopeful voice is as relevant as ever."-Robin D.G. Kelley, author of Yo' Mama's DisFunktional!:


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Contents Preface How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America A Critical Assessment Introduction to the First Edition Part 1 The Black Majority Chapter 1 The Crisis of the Black Working Class Chapter 2 The Black Poor Chapter 3 Grounding with My Sisters Chapter 4 Black Prisoners and Punishment in a Racist/Capitalist State Part 2 The Black Elite Chapter 5 Black Capitalism Chapter 6 Contents Preface How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America A Critical Assessment Introduction to the First Edition Part 1 The Black Majority Chapter 1 The Crisis of the Black Working Class Chapter 2 The Black Poor Chapter 3 Grounding with My Sisters Chapter 4 Black Prisoners and Punishment in a Racist/Capitalist State Part 2 The Black Elite Chapter 5 Black Capitalism Chapter 6 Black Brahmins Chapter 7 The Ambiguous Politics of the Black Church Chapter 8 The Destruction of Black Education Part 3 A Question of Genocide Chapter 9 The Meaning of Racist Violence in Late Capitalism Chapter 10 Conclusion: Towards a Socialist America Reviews "Manning Marable examines developments in the political economy of racism in the United States and assesses shifts in the American Political terrain since the first edition....He is one of the most widely read Black progressive authors in the country."-Black Employment Journal "The reissue of Manning Marable's How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America confirms that this is a classic work of political history and social criticism. Unfortunately, Marable's blistering insights into racial injustice and economic inequality remain depressingly relevant. But the good news is that Marable's prescient analysis-and his eloquent and self-critical preface to this new edition-will prove critical in helping us to think through and conquer the oppressive forces that remain."-Michael Eric Dyson, author of I May Not Get Therewith You: The True Martin Luther King, Jr. "For those of us who came of political age in the 1980s, Manning Marable's How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America was one of our bibles. Published during the cold winter of Reaganism, he introduced a new generation of Black activists/thinkers to class and gender struggles within Black communities, the political economy of incarceration, the limitations of Black capitalism, and the nearly forgotten vision of what a socialist future might look like. Two decades later, Marable's urgent and hopeful voice is as relevant as ever."-Robin D.G. Kelley, author of Yo' Mama's DisFunktional!:

30 review for How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America: Problems in Race, Political Economy, and Society

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jason Schulman

    This is still probably Marable's most important book, even more so than his book on Malcolm X. Anyone wanting to understand the relationship between capitalism and white supremacy in the U.S., at least in regard to the African American experience, might want to start here.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    It's heavy on polemic, but it's an important perspective on black history and Civil Rights from an African-American socialist. The best part was about the black political class and black businesses in the 60s to 80s. Marable predicts the incarceral state that will entrap millions of black and brown men before it was in full swing. He also links the black civil right cause with feminism explaining that the fate of the two movements are entwined.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    a brilliant examination of the forces of a racist white America to control the economic livelihood of black America... a generous amount of scholarship via footnotes and bibliographic references, which will provide interested readers like myself with many new authors and books to investigate... Marable lays out something i have accepted/known for a long time (not trying to act smarter than her, honest!), capitalism isn't a broken system, it is the wrong system and a system that can only survive a brilliant examination of the forces of a racist white America to control the economic livelihood of black America... a generous amount of scholarship via footnotes and bibliographic references, which will provide interested readers like myself with many new authors and books to investigate... Marable lays out something i have accepted/known for a long time (not trying to act smarter than her, honest!), capitalism isn't a broken system, it is the wrong system and a system that can only survive by devastating large numbers of its contributors for the edification of the select few white capitalists... the 's-word' has such a bad rap in America because most people have little or no actual academic understanding of what socialism is/means or how it functions/operates/expands... but i think socialism has its many detractors because of two things (among many others): 1) belief in (the lie of) individualism, which claims (made by those who already have wealth/power/influence/your mortgage at their bank) "anyone can make it if they just work hard enough, you don't need anyone but you!"; and 2) the necessity of all humans treating all other humans LIKE HUMANS... people struggle working in community since they are always worried their contribution is being ignored, isn't being weighed sufficiently heavily enough, or they aren't getting enough for their contribution... which dovetails into the "treating humans like humans" because consistently overvaluing yourself in relation to others AND/OR expecting more than others because of how valuable you are means you cannot accept others as equals or treat them well... i LOVE socialism, sine i think we need to cooperate to survive, and i don't think anyone's contributions should allot them significantly more than anyone else (in capitalist parlance: the CEO succeeds because the workers get work done, so who needs who???), nor do i think controlling others or controlling large swaths of wealth, land, people, resources, or power does SOCIETY a good turn... Marable does a fabulous job of tearing apart the capitalist structure and simultaneously shredding various "elite" black groups/people for not being "revolutionary enough" (my term, interpreting what she writes)... the biggest scare for me is how nearly everything she says about the Reagan years (before, during, after) mirrors so similarly the Trump debacle we are (barely) surviving... anyone who can read this and think America isn't racist, or that capitalism isn't founded on lieslieslies is devoid of any critical thinking or social conscience...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Imani ♥ ☮

    I love Manning Marable's writing style. Unlike a lot of socio-historicalogical texts, Marable's voice seeps through the words in ways that made me understand the history of capitalism in the United States profoundly. I think in some ways, I enjoyed Race, Reform and Rebellion by him more, yet I believe that the title alone of this work is particularly important for today's understanding of race, nationalism and capitalism. Especially in this neoliberal age. This book is quite dated - he wrote it I love Manning Marable's writing style. Unlike a lot of socio-historicalogical texts, Marable's voice seeps through the words in ways that made me understand the history of capitalism in the United States profoundly. I think in some ways, I enjoyed Race, Reform and Rebellion by him more, yet I believe that the title alone of this work is particularly important for today's understanding of race, nationalism and capitalism. Especially in this neoliberal age. This book is quite dated - he wrote it before Clinton was elected - yet a great deal of what he says still holds true to the underdevelopment of Black America. I think anyone who wants to better understand white backlash that resulted in Trump, will find good stuff in this one and his other work I mentioned. I actually believe that a great deal of what happened in the Nixon-Reagan/Bush era will forecast what will be occurring in the eminent future with Trump. If only Marable were alive to truly document the parallels. Great book, glad I realized in time the majesty of Marable.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kb

    This book is as old as me and it is interesting to see how our current events with the rise of Trump are mirrored in the early years of Reaganism. Marable lays out how racism and capitalism are inextricably intwined in US society and how those in power like to exploit US racism in order to maintain a capitalist society.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Joan Lesmeister

    An excellent, scholarly yet militant work which attempts the daunting task of synthesizing the history of Black oppression and resistance into a Marxist worldview. Marable's central thesis is that the United States must be understood as a "racist/capitalist state", in which racism and labor exploitation are mutually reinforcing. For Marable, the central divide in U.S. society is not simply between white and black, but between the working class and capitalist ruling class. Historically, blacks An excellent, scholarly yet militant work which attempts the daunting task of synthesizing the history of Black oppression and resistance into a Marxist worldview. Marable's central thesis is that the United States must be understood as a "racist/capitalist state", in which racism and labor exploitation are mutually reinforcing. For Marable, the central divide in U.S. society is not simply between white and black, but between the working class and capitalist ruling class. Historically, blacks have comprised a disproportionate section of the poor and working classes, producing surplus value for a minority of white wealth holders, and thus the American class structure is also a racial structure. In the long run, the division of the working class fostered by racism only weakens the bargaining power of labor and profits only the capitalists. However, white workers have long benefited in a relative sense from the segregation of the labor market, resulting in a white 'labor aristocracy' which impedes the development of a unified and anti-racist working class. Marable attempts to analyze Black oppression from various angles, including the experiences of labor, women, prisoners and the underemployed 'ghetto class'. Furthermore, he reconstructs a broad history of Black struggle and resistance, spanning from 17th-century slave maroons to mid-20th century labor politics. In so doing, he develops a more rounded picture of Black American history and a more nuanced understanding of the working class than most historians or Marxist analysts. He also gives a particularly thoughtful assessment of the history and theory of black nationalism, critiquing it at times--for example, he critiques the interest of early nationalists in "race propagation" as grounding patriarchal family norms, and questions whether Black oppression is correctly characterized as "genocide", seeing capitalism as more interested in keeping a surplus labor population around to exploit than wiping out black America per se. But Marable also acknowledges Black nationalism's progressive aspects, and sympathizes with it as a response to the realities of Black life in the early 20th century. Although Marable favors a broad front of the oppressed (workers, minorities, women, etc.) to bring about a Socialist revolution, he is not ignorant of the heterogeneity and the fundamental diversity of viewpoints within all of the groups in American society that comprise 'the oppressed', or of the difficulties of articulating a common politics between them. However, the intersectional analysis presented in this book is an important step forward toward such a politics, along with contemporaneous work by Angela Davis, etc.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Smith

    this is a absolute read for White Americans of good faith to understand what they must do; and for Black Americans to really understand intellectual / ideological root of Black opression their situation

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jimmy

    It's a shame Marable didn't get to more completely revise the original work, as some references are dated ( and could be made more contemporary with little strain or damage to the central arguments. Perhaps relies a little to heavily of Marxist 'givens' but overall provides a very solid analysis of race and racism in the historical context of the Regan Era, much of which can be easily applied to the Age of Trump.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Monica

    5 stars because it's that kind of book. 1980s seems a whole lot like today. My only complaint is that I wish the destruction of black education chapter had more history to it, and more time spent on it, but that's just because Marable's writing style made complex problems simple to grasp, and this was a good read, even with horrific subject matter.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Christy

    Brilliant and exactly right political economy of what White capitalism did to Black America, which was to "underdevelop" it economically so that post-slavery is like neo-slavery in the US and like post-colonial Africa is to neo-colonial Africa with the same deliberate "underdevelopment" of the entire "dark Continent". It's all under cover of both White Supremacy and White Man's Burden.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ietrio

    A very nice sermon, even if a bit long and repetitive. Sadly, the author is building a conspiracy theory out of shallow facts and some misunderstandings. Maybe this has to do with the lower levels of education associated with poverty.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Reginald Simms

    "How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America is one of those paradigm-shifting, life-changing texts that has not lost its currency or relevance—even after three decades. Its provocative treatise on the ravages of late capitalism, state violence, incarceration, and patriarchy on the life chances and struggles of black working-class men and women shaped an entire generation, directing our energies to the terrain of the prison-industrial complex, anti-racist work, labor organizing, alternatives to "How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America is one of those paradigm-shifting, life-changing texts that has not lost its currency or relevance—even after three decades. Its provocative treatise on the ravages of late capitalism, state violence, incarceration, and patriarchy on the life chances and struggles of black working-class men and women shaped an entire generation, directing our energies to the terrain of the prison-industrial complex, anti-racist work, labor organizing, alternatives to racial capitalism, and challenging patriarchy—personally and politically." —Robin D. G. Kelley "Marxism is the doctrine which believes that freedom, equality and democracy are today possible for all mankind. If this (book) has stimulated you to pursue the further study of Marxism, we will have struck a blow for the emergence of mankind from the darkness into which capitalism has plunged the world."—C. L. R. James A picture is worth a thousand words. A cliche statement that if taken seriously could reveal the latent image made visible through the acidic stop bath of the under and arrested development of Black America. Manning Marable reveals the unexposed nuances of a story and with How Capitalism Underdeveloped America goes through the myriad of human institutions backing these facts of life for Black America as they live it, with numbers and data. In essence, he develops the negative picture advancing the idea that a section of the American populace through the different social institutions in society have been intentionally stifled through disinvestment. He begins with giving a background on the crisis of the black worker in the labor struggle of the mid 20th century and follows up with the result of this struggle, the prevention of most of Black America to surpass a class position of the lowest form. He chooses the following chapters to ground his assessment by writing about the exploitation of Black Women as another pillar on which capitalism is held up. Being poor and black and a women in America readily affords you death but a prison sentence is a cooling secondary concession to what many experts including Manning Marable himself, would call a holocaust. Plotting out how in a racist/capitalist state those who were put in the position of providing free labor, following the industrial revolution coupled with slave labor rebellions catapulting a young America into a Civil War, are now in a new kind of slavery as amended in the constitution, the convict leasing system, giving a basis for the current system of imprisonment. These kinds of death sentences can only be economically efficient when administered by those he calls the domestic elite, that select portion of Black America that ever since chattel slavery have been benefactors of capitalism and have administered the necessary death and destruction to their own community. The church in its ambiguity, self serving politicians, and so-called black leadership are the intermediary middlemen that serve as cogs in the capitalist machine and readily administer this concert of genocide. The violence of capitalism is enacted not only through killing and imprisonment but through an inequitable distribution of wealth and stifling of progress for anyone who tries. These technologies are the condenser enlargers on the bigger picture being developed that shows a sharp contrast of an America divided based on race and class distinctions within Black America. This manichean wedge keeps the rich rich and the poor poor but in particular advances the necropolitics of American culture and provides the necessary pool of human resources that keeps capitalism advancing in its own development. Some may ask, "Why read a book that came out in the eighties?" My answer would be there is another cliche that’s gets thrown around “History repeats itself.” There are several examples in the book Marable gives that shows this has always been the modus operandi of institutions and individuals towards the appearance of "blacks" in America. With the current wave of civil and human rights organizing comes the spectre of history here to haunt again. Shortly after the late 60’s decline of the Civil Rights movement followed by the Black Power movement and various scurries into reformists and placated positions the leading voices proclaimed to be by default the “leadership of Black America” has the potential to repeat history but in a contemporary way. The contemporary numbers prove the ever increasing decline of Black America is in full swing that amounts to a continuing holocaust. What has always been the foundation of this country as the necessity of poor, under-paid, incarcerated, under-educated, patriarchal, disinvested, individuals and general disorganization of anything that could be considered Black America or the leadership exemplified by the Church and individual leadership cults, all act as the well maintained working mechanisms in the machinery of capitalism. All the preceding serve to underdevelop and malform the bigger picture of a people united and well organized.

  13. 5 out of 5

    David Buccola

    It’s hard to believe just how relevant this book is despite being based on decades old statistics. Manning Marable does a superb job of illustrating the connection between white supremacy and capitalism.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Zachariah

    I don't know if I just really had trouble finding the time for this book but it took me much longer to finish than any other book I've recently read. And I wanted to really like it but there were just too many places where it lagged or bogged down on statistical data. I realize it's important to back up your thesis with some hard numbers, when you can, but I felt it was a little excessive in some places. Like several consecutive paragraphs of just straight statistics. Most of which could have I don't know if I just really had trouble finding the time for this book but it took me much longer to finish than any other book I've recently read. And I wanted to really like it but there were just too many places where it lagged or bogged down on statistical data. I realize it's important to back up your thesis with some hard numbers, when you can, but I felt it was a little excessive in some places. Like several consecutive paragraphs of just straight statistics. Most of which could have been left to the 30 pages of tables in the back of the book. Still it was a good read. If it's a subject you're interested in then you'll most likely enjoy it. I definitely learned some things I didn't know or hadn't realized about black history, racism and even sexism. It would be nice to have read "How Europe Underdeveloped Africa" as a point of comparison but unfortunately I haven't gotten to that yet. I recommend the updated edition because of the "Critical Reassessment" by the author. He addresses the ways in which he may have been wrong at the time but also the ways in which much of it is still an accurate evaluation.

  15. 5 out of 5

    J.P.

    This is one of those life changing books. The title is inspired by Walter Rodney's "How Europe Underdeveloped Africa". It's an analysis of the black working class, sexism in the black community & the fact that black men need to do better, the black bourgeoisie & the role they have historically played in various movements as either helper or hindrance, the role of the black church, the role of politics & ultimately where to move forward. It was published in the early 80's & it's This is one of those life changing books. The title is inspired by Walter Rodney's "How Europe Underdeveloped Africa". It's an analysis of the black working class, sexism in the black community & the fact that black men need to do better, the black bourgeoisie & the role they have historically played in various movements as either helper or hindrance, the role of the black church, the role of politics & ultimately where to move forward. It was published in the early 80's & it's interesting how the rise of Regan & the accompanying spike in racist violence parallels that of Donald Trump. While the violence has always been constant, meant to keep black people in check, Marable clearly demonstrates how it is release for white working class anxieties about their own precarious position within capitalism. The book closes with observations & suggestions of what to do to move forward. Not meant to be an end all be all, it does have some good suggestions. If we truly want freedom we must struggle for something that is anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-capitalist & anti-oppression in general. That requires the destruction of capitalism & it won't fall on it's own. I highly recommend it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Frank

    Didn't read all of this. Skimmed some of it, skipped some. Too much a Marxist political tract at times, but stimulating nonetheless. I was able to use some passages from it in class, so that was good.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Aleta

    Started this never finished -- will p[ick up again

  18. 4 out of 5

    Royce Drake

    "How Europe Underdeveloped Africa" rewritten and applied to the USA.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ed

    Lesser known, radical, African-American intellectual. Contemporary of Ishmael Reed and Cornel West.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Scot

    another classic

  21. 4 out of 5

    KISHAN SONI

  22. 5 out of 5

    Eric Durant

  23. 4 out of 5

    Robert Green

  24. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Batiste

  25. 4 out of 5

    Katie Greene

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ky

  27. 5 out of 5

    Randy

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alyson Johnson

  29. 5 out of 5

    Edgardo Herrera

  30. 4 out of 5

    Samyuktha Spandhana

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